Friday, February 27, 2009

recipe-a-week #8: my grandmother's bread & hyacinth

I have a hyacinth on the way. Phillip and I are both very excited. He asks to smell it already. See why I chose carnations? They still look great, two weeks after Valentine's.

I've talked about winning things before, and how I seem to have a knack for it. Last weekend, a friend and I went to see Murder is a Game at Th'YARC, in which Ingrid is a star player. I lent the friend $5 for 50/50 tickets, and she won. And promptly paid me back! Tomorrow is the last night for the play - I meant to post about it sooner, but if you're free tomorrow night at 7:30, you should definitely pick up a ticket. It's a fun and entertaining show, and it wraps up all tidily at the end, which I love.

It's my dad's birthday tomorrow, and he always asks me to make him some bread. Chewy, gluten-y, white-flour-y, perfect-vehicle-for-jam-and-butter (yes, and) kind of bread. So I have a batch of his mother's bread rising by the fire as Phillip reads himself to sleep. I only have one memory of my Grammie, as she died when I was a few years old. We were in her kitchen, and I remember her opening the potato bin - one of those ones that looks like a cupboard but when you pull the handle it angles out toward you. My only memory of her husband (these were my dad's parents) is of him lying in his bed not long before he died. Both of my mother's parents died while I was in university, so I consider myself very lucky to have some fantastic grandparents of Adam's who I've taken as my own. I made a Queen Elizabeth Cake last night, which is one of Adam's Grammie's recipes, and tonight I'm making my Grammie's bread, so I'm feeling close to some great women and their kitchens.

Grammie's White Bread

Makes 3 loaves

Dissolve 1 yeast cake (or 1 1/2 tbsp traditional yeast) in 1 cup lukewarm water with 1 tsp sugar.

In a giant bowl (I use a huge metal one), put 2 tbsp butter and 2 tsp sugar. Add 1 cup milk. Pour 2 cups boiling water over, to melt butter. Add 2 cups cold water. To this, add the yeast mixture and 1 1/2 tsp salt. Add flour (approximately 12 cups), and mix until it's lovely and doughy, adjusting with more or less flour as needed. Form into a blob, cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size. Punch down, and let rise again. Divide into loaves, and let rise in pan before placing in oven to bake for approximately 1 hour, until loaves sound hollow when tapped and are golden brown. Of course, it's best served warm with butter and homemade strawberry jam - my favourite combo. My dad likes it with butter and peanut butter (now you can see where I get my affection for butter). Or store bought grape jelly in a squeeze bottle. However you like it, enjoy!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

nothing but blue sky

The sky was the most incredible shade of blue today.

Phillip and I went for a walk after I came home from work.

An electrician came today. He replaced some old and hideous light fixtures and repaired some outlets.

It was a very good day.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Phillip was reading 'Baby Beluga' immediately preceding this, but we weren't quick enough to catch that on video. Instead, may I present a reading of 'The Wheels on the Bus', complete with hand gestures for "Move on back," as spoken by the driver of said bus. Oh, and my favourite part: "Oh, this one!"

Monday, February 23, 2009

no more monkeys jumping on the bed!

It's been too long without a picture of Mr P. So here he is, jumping on the bed. He's such a little monkey!

Friday, February 20, 2009

food week, day five: dessert

I'm realizing this week that many of the recipes I use regularly are from I love that you can be really specific with your searches, and that there are a bazillion (give or take a few) recipes to choose from. But I haven't used it to find a new recipe since January 1, as per my resolution to use the recipes I have in print more often.

Food Week's final day is dessert, and this Fruit Pizza is one of my all time favourites. It takes almost no time to make, and I don't think I've met a single person who doesn't like it. Okay, I just thought of one, but she doesn't like cream cheese, so her taste can't be representative of many others. So get that block of cream cheese out of the fridge, and invite some friends over so you don't eat the whole thing. The one pictured is one I made today to take to a staff meeting I went to, and it certainly isn't the prettiest one I've ever made. You can top it with whatever fruit you wish - because it's so sweet, I like it best with tangy fruit such as kiwi and pomegranate. But really, anything goes! The recipe is here. Enjoy!

Thanks so much to everyone for participating in Food Week! I've had fun collecting some new recipes, and I hope you have, too. Now go and have a fantastic weekend and do something out of the ordinary!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

food week, day 4: vegetarian

This falafel with cucumber sauce is one of my favourite meals, and I don't make it often enough. We had it for lunch today, and there are some leftovers in the fridge which I can't wait to dive in to. Rather than copying the recipe here on my blog, you can just skip on over to the original here. I recommend doing the last step (making the cucumber sauce) first, so it mellows while you're working on the rest. You can see the list of everyone else who is participating in Food Week here.

It was a snow day here today, and I had the chance to make five batches of soap this afternoon. I feel very productive. One of them is a new exfoliating citrus bar with orange peel powder in it, along with essential oils of bergamot (I adore bergamot), grapefruit, and benzoin, to hopefully help hold the other oils' scent. I think I'm going to love it. My new base (of olive, coconut, and castor oils) seems to be working perfectly, so I'm a happy soaper.

The snow has stopped, and it looks like it's raining now. I have tickets for a play tonight, which Ingrid is in, so I'm having an all-around fan-diddly-tastic day. (Just call me Flanders.) Tomorrow is dessert day, and I have another excellent recipe to share, so pop on by again!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

food week, day 3: supper (dinner)

Hey, it's that pantry picture again! There are some green lentils in that third jar, and that is the main ingredient in today's recipe. Speaking of lentils, something lovely came in today's mail...

My photo, published in Flavor (oooh, it's hard to spell that without a "u") magazine! I'm pretty tickled.

So, on to dinner! Lentil Sloppy Joes it is! I love this dinner (I guess I use both 'supper' and 'dinner') because it's super easy, quick, healthy, and the flavour of the dish is much more than the sum of it parts. Having the lentils done up beforehand is key. It's a crockpot recipe, so you come home to an amazing-smelling kitchen, too. I copied the recipe from a library book, and now I've forgotten the name of the book. It's something about vegetarian slow cooker recipes. Here it is:

Lentil Sloppy Joes

1 tbsp vegetable oil (I use olive)
1 onion, finely chopped
4 stalks celery, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste
1/2 cup tomato ketchup
1/4 cup water (I use a lot more (probably 1 1/2 cups) - it tends to burn with too little water)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 cups cooked brown or green lentils, drained and rinsed
hot pepper sauce (optional)
toasted hamburger buns

1. In a skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and celery and cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, oregano, salt and pepper and cook, stirring for one minute. Stir in ketchup, water, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, and mustard. Transfer to slow cooker stoneware. Add lentils and stir well.

2. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours or on high for 3 hours, until hot and bubbling. Add hot pepper sauce to taste, if using. Ladle over hot toasted buns and serve immediately.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

food week, day 2: lunch

It's time for lunch! This is my favourite quick lunch to throw together in a hurry. I originally posted it here. There's no official written recipe, but it goes a little something like this:

Cook a box of whole wheat pasta, and run under cold water to cool. Toss in some cubed cheese, frozen peas, green onion or chives, and whatever else you like (red peppers, sundried tomatoes, etc). Mix up a dressing of a blop of mayo (maybe 1/3 cup-ish), salt, pepper, a splash of olive oil (2 tsp), parmesan, 1 tsp mustard and lots of garlic powder, mix, and voila! The reason I cook a whole box is because I can eat this for days in a row and not get tired of it. It's that good!

Click here to see the list of everyone who's participating.

P.S. - I'm sending my replacement Kitchen Aid stand mixer in for repair or replacement. Awful high pitched sound again, and one of the knobs broke in Adam's hand tonight. Good grief.

Monday, February 16, 2009

food week, day 1: breakfast

Happy Food Week! I'm excited to get started. So, let's jump right in. Here are the participants:

Vickie, mothergoose, sebrina, Sarah C, Alli, Stacey J, Ingrid, and ELK. If you'd like your name added, or if I've made some other error in the list, please let me know, and I'll "fick-its", as Phillip says.

Often on the weekend, we make a big batch of either waffles or pancakes, and freeze most of them between waxed paper to pop in the toaster on weekday mornings. I picked up a fantastic waffle iron on Freecycle (I know I've mentioned it here several times) and love using it. My favourite recipe that I've tried is from The Joy of Cooking - it makes light, delicious, fluffy butter-vehicles. I mean waffles. One of the things I love about the recipes is that you can use anything for toppings - fruit, jam, maple syrup (of course), butter, whipped cream or anything else that you enjoy.

Basic Waffles

Use 4 tbsp butter for a reduced-fat waffle, 8 tbsp for a classic light and fluffy waffle, or 16 tbsp for the crunchiest, most delicious waffle imaginable.
Preheat your waffle iron.
Whisk together in a large bowl:
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour (I usually add in some whole wheat)
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Whisk together in another bowl:
3 large eggs, well beaten
4 to 16 tbsp butter, melted (I use somewhere between 4 and 8)
1 1/2 cups milk

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients. Gently whisk them together. If you wish, fold in 1/2 cup of anything from blueberries to bacon to cheese. Cook on waffle iron, and enjoy!
This is the fish dinner we had last night; it was supposed to be fish tacos, but someone (*my hand is raised*) forgot to write 'red cabbage' on the grocery list, and I thought they would not be so swell without. So I made up a breadcrumb mix with cayenne and some spices, pan-fried the fish in a teensy bit of olive oil. The salad is just a bunch of chopped up things in an olive oil dressing I whipped up. It turned out really well - a tidge of horseradish and some maple syrup made it very pleasant.

And it's been a little while since I posted a picture of Mr P - I thought these were good ones for food week. (Also because I thought you might like to see them, Annie!) I love how he stuffs his little face.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

vines & food week

It's the garden's off-season. It's certainly still beautiful, in a very different way.

So, are you ready for food week? It starts tomorrow, and if you have a blog or flickr account and want to join in, please do! Each day will have a specific type of recipe to post.

Monday - Breakfast
Tuesday - Lunch
Wednesday (you guessed it!) - Supper
Thursday - Vegetable (a vegetarian vegetable dish)
Friday - Dessert

They can be recipes you've already posted on your blog, ones you have in your head, ones passed down - anything goes. What I want is your very best recipe (by my standards) in each category. Very best. By best, I mean it's relatively simple, delicious, and quick, using mostly ingredients I would have in my pantry already. And hey, since I'm making up the rules, no boxed ingredients in the recipes (like boxes of jell-o, packages of cake mix, or canned soup). Boxed broth and frozen phyllo or puff pastry are fine. (I love making up the rules!) Really, though, I'm not going to boycott your post if it doesn't strictly meet all of those requirements - I just want more great recipes to go around!

I will post a list of participants tomorrow (Monday) along with my breakfast recipe. So if you're in for sure, please leave a comment on this post, to make sure that you're included. It would be great if you could link back to my blog with each post throughout the week, but don't get your knickers in a knot over it if you forget - things are pretty laid back around here.

I'm hungry already, and can't wait to see all of your fantastic recipes!

P.S. Speaking of hungry, Adam made these cookies the other day, and they are chewily divine. Phillip loves them, too. Also, we're making these for dinner tonight - I hope they're as good as they look!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

summer is coming... someday... and decluttering

As of this morning, I'm tired of winter. I have these little beachy tidbits on the windowsill in the kitchen, since going-to-the-beach weather can't come soon enough.

Have I told you that I've been cleaning out the house like a madwoman lately? It's been a process, over the course of several months, really. And of course, there's always room for more. But lately I've been very productive. I think I've just had enough of 'stuff'. If it's not useful, beautiful, needed, or used, out it goes. I've taken bags and bags of stuff to the Salvation Army (everything from clothes to curtains to housewares), Freecycled some things, and some (holy boxes, Batman!) was just garbage and/or recycling that had to be cleared out. I highly recommend the process. I feel like I've lost twenty pounds - it's that satisfying. I have less stuff to look after and take care of, and what I do have is stuff I enjoy and use.

Here's a tip if you're thinking that the whole thing sounds too overwhelming to tackle at your home - tuck a garbage bag somewhere out of the way (I have one in my bedroom closet). Every time you come across something and think "I haven't used/worn this in ages!" or "I never did like this" or "Why do I still have this?", instead of putting it back where you found it, into the bag it goes. When the bag is full, donate it and start a new one.

I'm excited for some nice Spring days to come - Adam and I are going to make a date, send P to visit his grandparents', and clean the shed. Properly. (Seriously, this is the kind of thing I find exciting.) The last time that was done was a few days before Phillip was born, so it is well beyond needing to be done again.

What cleaning projects do you have on your list? Do you enjoy decluttering? Is a weekend spent organizing a room better than chocolate to you? Is alphabetizing right up your alley? Do tell!

Friday, February 13, 2009

pretty in pink

How's this for the most-feminine-photograph-of-the-year award? Would you believe that I didn't appreciate pink until a few years ago? I detested it, actually. But I've come around, and I love these pink mini-carnations, brought to me from my two valentines. (I did drop a hint in true Sherrie style - "You can buy me the light pink mini carnations at the grocery store because I want to take some pictures of them.") Happy Valentine's day, wherever you are and whoever you're with.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

recipe-a-week #7: pfitzauf

We hosted a midwinter potluck on the weekend, and had a lot of fun seeing some friends we hadn't in awhile. Frankly, we just wanted to see everyone - it seems as though the winter keeps everyone home and isolated, and we missed everyone. We're definitely going to do it again, and hopefully soon! One of our friends who came is an amazing cook, as well as an extraordinarily dedicated teacher. And she's one of the loveliest people I think I've ever met. Did you catch that she's a great cook? (She even has one of those fancy little blowtorches!) Oh, and she's German, so I was especially excited that she brought a German dessert. It was heavenly, and I can't wait to try making it myself.


250 g flour
pinch of salt
1/2 litre milk
5 eggs
125 g butter

Mix the flour with a bit of milk and the salt. Boil the rest of the milk. Add the eggs and the hot milk. Melt the butter. Butter the pans and add the remaining melted butter to the dough. Only fill the pans halfway. Don't add sugar, rather put some icing sugar on after baking. Bake for about 30 minutes at 200 Celsius. Serve with whipped cream. Enjoy!

A special note to Ingrid (to know what I'm talking about, see the comments on this post and this post): I will freely apologize for liking Mariah Carey's Christmas album. That is clearly a problem with me. But Sam Roberts? Not liking him is your problem, my friend. I just pre-ordered their new album. Heh heh. And I had fun at lunch with you today. :)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

mail, sweet mail, and two things of which I never tire

I've had all sorts of great goodies arrive in the mail as of late. Firstly, sweet Sarah sent me some lovely dishcloths! I asked Phillip which of the dishcloths was his favourite, and he chose the blue one above for me to photograph. They're my favourite kind - they do such a nice job of scrubbing, and will definitely make washing up more enjoyable. Don't you think that the pattern above looks like little peaks of frosting? Mmmm. And how's that for a gorgeous envelope? (It may be my favourite part of the package. Shhh, don't tell Sarah!) I also received this beautiful thank you note from classy Joslyn. It's just right, in every possible way.
This one didn't come in the mail, but I found it at Frenchy's. I've got soap-dishy plans for it, and think it's right up there with bees knees.
Also in the mail, I received a beautiful package of swappy loveliness from Spain, including this beautiful Italian-made notebook,
these leather dishes which the swapee made,
and a sweet little leather pouch which she also made, along with a few other goodies. I sent her soaps and scrubs and other bath goodies. I love a good swap. Yay, mail!
Two things of which I never tire:
1. This is one of my favourite driving albums of all time. Track 1 is fab.
2. Star Anise, in any form.

I seem to be having a busy few weeks at work, which is fun, but leaves me tuckered out at the end of the day. So I'm off to enjoy the bounty that is magazine week - the week when all of the next month's magazines arrive in the mailbox. Happy Wednesday!

Monday, February 09, 2009

mavillette and food week

I had a chance last week to take a quick photo stop on my way to see a student, on a very sunny day. Do you see why I love it here? See?
And I found my new dream house, which happens to look directly at the view in the first photo.
It even has a soap shed. And someone else has done all of the work to fix it up.

Next week will be Food Week! Keep thinking about those recipes you'd like to share with the blogosphere.
Monday - Breakfast
Tuesday - Lunch
Wednesday (you guessed it!) - Supper
Thursday - Vegetable (a vegetarian vegetable dish)
Friday - Dessert

They can be recipes you've already posted, ones you have in your head - anything goes. What I want is your very best recipe (by my standards) in each category. Very best. By best, I mean it's relatively simple, delicious, and quick, using mostly ingredients I would have in my pantry already. And hey, since I'm making up the rules, no boxed ingredients in the recipes (like boxes of jello, packages of cake mix, or canned soup). Boxed broth and frozen phyllo or puff pastry are fine. (I love making up the rules!) Really, though, I'm not going to boycott your post if it doesn't strictly meet all of those requirements - I just want more recipes to add to my collection. Now that you have the outline, you have one week to decide which recipes you'll post, and we'll start one week from today. Happy Monday - I hope that your week started off well.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

recipe-a-week #6: blueberry galette

This was the easiest thing to make, and was delicious. Back into my usual way of doing things, I didn't measure anything for the filling (I just mixed a couple cups of frozen blueberries with a teensy bit of sugar and a bit of cornstarch). The crust, though, I do have a recipe for. It was written down by me (from this Saipua post) and it isn't from one of my cookbooks, but I'll count it as one of my weekly recipes, since technically it was on paper. I know, it's a stretch.

Galette Dough

1 1/4 cups of flour
1 /2 cup cold butter
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Blend until butter is in fine crumbs.

Gradually add in 1/4 cup cold water until dough holds together in a ball. Form into a disk, and cover, then refrigerate for one hour. Then roll it out, and add whatever filling you like - savoury, sweet, cheesy - anything goes! Just turn the edges of the crust up around before baking, and bake until it's done (maybe 25-30 minutes-ish.)

There's a recipe for a blueberry filling here. I turned up my nose when I read that the recipe is from Gourmet magazine and it calls for refrigerated pie dough. Ugh. I think I'll soon try it with a savoury vegetable filling - yum!

Friday, February 06, 2009

baby's breath

I took several photos of the baby's breath I mentioned yesterday, and this is one of my favourites.

I forgot to pass along that Moroccan Couscous recipe which I mentioned last week! And you know what? You can find it here, so since I didn't get a good picture, you can go see the recipe and make it. It's really, really good. Seriously. Way better than I thought it could possibly be. There! Some of your weekend menu planning is done already.

I'm going to update my Etsy shop over the course of the weekend, so have a peek at some of my snazzy new offerings. And have a great weekend!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

snow day 2.0

I had a second, consecutive, glorious snow day yesterday. I took a nap, which was divine. And despite all of the snow, there is still lots of green in the garden, if you know where to look.

How do you like the new header? I was completely inspired by this, and had to buy some baby's breath tonight at the grocery store to take some pictures of my own. It's really too bad that such sweet flowers are used so tackily in French braids (as Ingrid pointed out tonight) and Valentine's bouquets. I'm happy to bring them back to their simple, sweet selves.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

snow day 1.0 and Martha's fruit crumb bars

Yay! I had a great first snow day of the winter. This picture was actually from the other day, at the entrance to a cemetery not far from our house. If it wasn't so blustery and nasty out today, I would have gone to take some more pictures this afternoon.
During Phillip's nap, I did a number on the porch. I washed and tidied up these shelves and organized all of the coats and bags and other miscellany that was hanging on the hooks. Holy satisfying, Batman.
And I snatched this two-for-one shot just after supper. Today's snow and Martha's Fruit Crumb Bars. I wasn't planning on making these, until two dishes of homemade applesauce jumped out of the freezer this morning at Adam and the containers broke on the floor. So I used that as the filling. The recipe is in the Martha Stewart Living Cookbook: The Original Classics. They're pretty yummy, and Phillip looooves them. And as you can see, mine look nothing like the picture when you follow that first link. It's kind of like apple crumble in layered bar form. Yum! In further snow news, it's looking like freezing rain will continue well into the night, so my fingers are crossed for tomorrow.
And look (through the mirror dirt, eeeeew) at what arrived in the mail! A snazzy new strap for my little camera, from this Etsy shop. I love it. Three of my favourite things: green, brown, and damask. Nice!

Monday, February 02, 2009

beautiful day and an upcoming theme week: food

Phillip and I walked downtown today after work, along the waterfront, and did some sky watching. I've noticed that over the past week or so, the quality of light has changed. It's warmer - less winter-blue and more yellow-warm. I like that. A lot. And each day, the light lasts a wee bit longer.

I post a lot of recipes here, mostly because I love to eat. I know that some of you have pretty amazing recipe ideas up your sleeves. Monday of Comfort Week was one of my favourite days - my soup list is as long as my arm, now. What do you guys think about having a food week? Are you in? I'm thinking breakfast, lunch, supper, vegetable, and casserole. (EDITED: I forgot DESSERT! Forget casseroles, we're doing desserts!) I'll give you a couple of weeks to thin out your options - you can only choose one for each day, and I want it to be a doozy! Your very best go-to recipe in each category. So keep that in the back of your mind - I'm thinking that we'll tackle it in a couple of weeks. There has to be something fun in between winter and spring! (Oh, and by the way - I have Spring Renewal week all laid out. Now we just have to wait for Spring.)

Ooooh - one more thing - cross your fingers for me! We have a snowfall warning for tomorrow, so I might get my first snow day of the year! If that happens, you'll definitely hear from me. Happy Monday!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

recipe-a-week #5: crème anglaise

So... I did make Ina Garten's Ile Flottante from Barefoot in Paris today. It's 8:45 and I literally just finished cleaning up the kitchen - I started making it just after 3:00 this afternoon. I had hoped to have a daylight pic of it. (Thanks to Adam for taking this one!) I don't think I'll be making it again, and the recipe is loooooong, so how about I just share the crème anglaise part of it? (Can you tell I'm tired out?) Of course, I made supper and gave the boy a bath in there, too. And for supper, I made Moroccan Couscous, another recipe from Barefoot in Paris, which was delicious, simple, and quick. I think I'll share that one later in the week. In the photo, the crème anglaise is the saucy bed. I used beautiful, huge, local eggs, so it has a gorgeous yellow colour.

On to the Crème Anglaise:

4 extra-large egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp corn starch
1 3/4 cups scalded milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp Cognac
seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean (optional)

Beat egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachement on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, or until very thick. Reduce speed to low, and add corn starch.

With the mixer still on low, slowly pour the hot milk into the eggs. Pour the custard mixture into a saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring constantly (this step took 30 minutes!) until thickened. It will coat the spoon like heavy cream. Don't cook above 180 degrees, or the eggs will scramble!

Pour the sauce through a fine strainer, add vanilla, cognac, and vanilla seeds, if using, and chill.

You can serve this over just about anything. Kind of like whipping cream. Mmmm.